By Rogier van Dam, Engagement Director, Manhattan Associates.
The customer journey. Customer experience. Omnichannel. The retail landscape is continuously evolving, with many moving parts and new additions to the technology roadmap, meaning retailers are constantly strapped in for a rollercoaster ride when it comes to making sure the experience they provide meets customer expectations.
It’s no longer news that consumers expect a connected experience, but many retailers still need reminding. Consumers want to be able to order online and pick up in-store, with a seamless collection experience. They want the same personalised experience delivered both in-store and online, regardless of device, and they want a smooth transition between each channel, regardless of whether that is an in-app experience, a social platform or anything in-between.
Despite this being common knowledge, some retailers are still struggling to connect the dots of the end-to-end customer journey, leaving disparate systems working at odds and capabilities left unexplored.
It all starts with using a customer experience maturity assessment to identify current and required capabilities, and from there, developing a tailored roadmap that not only supports the customer journey, but also ensures the retailer can achieve a scalable, optimised omnichannel offering.
Unlocking untapped potential
Digital experiences and cloud are currently dominating conversations in the retail space, but it is difficult for retailers to realise the full potential of these solutions and concepts without a holistic view of how they add value to the entire technology architecture, and ultimately, the customer experience.
We’ve all suffered from buzzword fatigue, with AI, IoT and Blockchain all being the new ‘must-have’ technologies over the last few years. However, despite these technologies holding huge potential for retailers when adopted correctly, if added into the retailer’s omnichannel strategy without consideration of how it will improve a customer’s level of satisfaction, or profit margins, any retailer (regardless of size), will struggle to derive any real value from the solution at all.
With such heightened customer expectations, what’s needed is a way for retailers to breakdown their current IT architecture to understand how each customer and optimisation capability - such as click and collect, in-store returns, amending an order in flight - contributes to the retailer’s customer experience roadmap, whilst identifying gaps and understanding where improvements can be made.
Short-term benefits are certainly attractive and identifying low-hanging fruit for any retailer looking to become a more optimised business. However, retailers that simply look for ‘quick wins’ by spontaneously adding in new customer-facing or operational capabilities without considering how it adds to the retailer’s maturity level, won’t reap the rewards in the long-term.
By moving away from the ‘quick win’ mentality and focusing instead on long-term benefits an organisation can assess what their priorities are and ensure each piece of technology that has been deployed is contributing to the retailer’s overall goal of creating a positive customer experience.
Building a scalable roadmap
With a structured plan in place and guidance from technology and retail experts, retailers can soon understand which omnichannel capabilities are the most important to them. It is with an integrated approach that retailers can understand which steps they should take first and which can follow suit.
Many retailers have an existing landscape and established ways of working, but this doesn’t mean that room for improvement can’t be made. It might be overwhelming to bring in an entirely new solution, but this shouldn’t be a stumbling block. With the peace of mind provided by a maturity model assessment, retailers can soon realise the benefits of a fit-for-purpose omnichannel solution that can take the customer journey to the next level.